Saturday, October 14, 2006



The final travel dispatch from The Boardman is coming at you…RIGHT NOW!


I have been back a little over a month, and I am finally getting around
to sending this. Rather than feeling ignored, I want you to feel
beautiful, because that is what you are.

Flattered? Have I increased the odds you will keep reading
and _maybe_even_email me back?

Hope so.

"Dear Adam, so great to hear from you. You are quite handsome
yourself, and that butt of yours is cuter than basket of puppies!"

Then again, please use some other image than a basket of puppies to
describe anything about me. Maybe "hotter than the surface of the sun"
or something like "Every birthday as I blow out the candles I wish for
a signed picture of you--With your shirt off."

Okay, say whatever you like, but at least finish reading this first.


Now for this next section think hard and reach back to those old SAT
analogy sections:


1) Going abroad : Getting back ::

a) quitting my soul sucking job to travel: broke but still glad I quit
my soul sucking job to travel


b) imagining of all the things I can do with all this money I have
saved : what am I going to do with this empty bank account?

c) so many adventures waiting for me : what jobs can I get with this
long hair?

d) everyone is cheering me on : everyone is asking those uncomfortable
College Graduation-type questions like "so, Benjamin, what's your next
step?"

e) all of the above

If you chose e) that is the correct answer and you win a week of me on
your couch, or maybe a signed picture of me with my shirt off. Wishes
really do come true.

Speaking of wishes, I wish I could answer that "so what's your next
step?" question with "Hoping, in vain, you would tactfully avoid that
question."

But getting back to, um, getting back, the connection of travel to
college is not coincidental. Much like school,
traveling is a wonderful time--it's transformational, educational, has
few responsibilities and, of course, lots of drinking. And when it's
over, you enter a new stage of life a changed person.

There are differences: this time there are no relatives sending me
cards containing juicy graduation checks (for the record, they are
still welcome), but on the bright side, I don't have
to figure out what to do with three copies of "Oh the Places You'll
Go!"

Here are the things I miss about South America (aka The other "other
America"):

1) Getting a Spanish lesson involves no more than "going outside"
2) Kisses upon greeting - if you see me and are interested, say so
3) Having my friends back home think I'm a globe-trotting rockstar
3) Eating as much cheap, incredible steak as I want
4) Charming Soccer Obsessions
5) Everyone being so nice and friendly (America is unspeakably uptight
by comparison)

Here are the things that I don't miss:

1) TP-flushing restrictions: goodbye mini trash cans! Hello Soap!
2) Hostel mattresses (upside: thanks to them I can now sleep virtually
anywhere)
3) Locoturio (internet cafes) keyboards best operated with a hammer
4) Not having shallots
5) Being so far away from all of my wonderful USA friends and family

__

My final, charmed month of my travels I spent in Buenos Aires. What
does one do with a month in Buenos Aires without a job and the rest of
a travel budget to blow?

I spent it staying up late, sleeping in, reading books, going out to
dinner every night, and nervously chewing my fingernails and screaming
and hugging Argentines while watching televised World Cup matches.

In the midst of all this, I took a side trip to Iguazu Falls
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iguassu_Falls) in NE Argentina. They
were as amazing as you might imagine, and really make you want to pee
(see photo below of South America's biggest, baddest bladder buster,
and the chump American who failed to use the bathroom before walking
out there).


When this episode of international fabulosity finally ended for The
Boardman, I went to New York City. Actually, I went to Connecticut.
Being my first time visit to that state, I am still unsure how many C's
and T's to use. What I did learn from all the people I have met from,
um, Contecticuttt, is that they all say that they are from New York
City. So even though I was in the comforts of bourgeois suburbia, I
still fronted the cool associations that come with saying you are from
New York- e.g. I started wearing lots of black, going on and on about
how everything is better in New York and/or the latest issue of Vice
Magazine.

Although lacking the energy of New York, my sister's life in the 'burbs
does have certain charms. For example, I got to be the "Manny" for my
niece Moira, wetnurse duties excluded. See below for a photo of me on
Manny duty, either on the beach, or possibly in a wind tunnel.

Moira is adorable (again, photo of her eating sand to prove it). Only
9 months old, with lots of happy personality and generally super cute.



My sister Erin got her post preggo foot taken care of and is doing
great. Thanks to all of you who expressed concern for her welfare--your good
thoughts helped for a smooth operation and speedy recovery. She will be
kickboxing in no time, I'm sure.

Since Erin was doing so well, while I was there she scheduled some
play-dates for Moira, one of which she invited me along to. For those
of you who are not mired in the
family/kids/suburbs/replacing-sex-with-arguments-about-when-to-throw-
out-refrigerator-contents stage of life, a "play-date" is a chance for
moms to hang out with each other under the guise of socializing their
children.

I was invited because the entire American northeast was hotter than the
surface of, you know, me, and her friend had a pool to cool off in.

My doctrine of "it's always worth it to get in the water" paid off
here: I did cool off, and learned a few things in the process.

First of all, with new mothers, NEVER say anything that might suggest
they are older than twenty-one and/or recently pregnant. Avoid topics
such as clothes, bodies, or anything within ten feet of their bodies,
especially things that happen to have slimming properties. If you have
to spend four hours near the African mammals section of the local zoo
because it makes them feel slim in comparison, buy a frozen banana and
suck it up.

To be more specific if your infant carrying sister and her infant
carrying girlfriend are both wearing *virtually identical* bathing
suits, from personal experience I advise to keep this in mind: much
like asking a twenty something world traveler who is coming to terms
with a domestic return about his "next step" (see above), some things
are just better left unsaid.

"Hmm...That's funny. Is the Tankini the go-to swimwear fashion choice
of new Coneccticcutt mothers or something?"

[Unexpected Glares, and snippy defensiveness about changing bodies best
not repeated]

Besides gaining a better understanding of when to keep my mouth shut, I
also learned that for a twenty-seven year-old bachelor, hanging with
one's sister and her girlfriends is about as much fun as it was as a
seven year-old bachelor.

The pointlessness of my spying schemes at that age now seem
almost tragic. If I only knew it would one day involve listening to
them talk about baby music classes and how their husbands don't help
around the house, I really would have played a lot more Nintendo.

I can say with confidence there will be no more playdates for Adam, at
least for a while. On
that note, I will wrap up part 1 of The Boardman Returns.


For all you Boardmaniacs out there, stay tuned for part 2, where Adam
braves the wilds of New England
backroads, has a turning point in the Pacific NW, and the next step in
the direction of what one might call employment...